I feel as if most people have had some run in or another with Lousia May Alcott’s Little Women, so thankfully I don’t have to do much in the way of summarizing!
This is the same cover I have on my book, and I really love it. To me it has always been a great representation of the March girls, and it’s how I’ve pictured them each time I’ve read the book.
Reading this book again was fun, because I’d completely forgotten about it. I’ve got a bushel of books that have lasted through the years and this is one of them. As I opened the cover to start my reread I caught a glimpse of my old middle school handwriting, and it took me back to the great book purge of 6th or 7th grade, when I started to feel sort of dorky for reading and sold a bunch of books to Half Price Book Store. Not only did they not give me nearly enough money for them, it make me sad today to think of all the much loved books I gave up to satisfy some sort of popularity contest within myself.
I’m glad this book made it through! I don’t remember when I got it exactly, but I do remember always loving Jo March. She was my favorite, and I’m pretty sure I projected some of myself onto her. She’s one of the big reasons I wrote as a child, because it gave her independence and satisfaction and I wanted that too. My parents built a sort of nook in the upstairs part of our house for my brother and I with a TV, various game consoles, and (most importantly!) a computer. It was big and white and clunky and had a floppy disk drive.
It looked almost exactly like this.
In the summer I was able to convince my parents I needed an hour of time where my brother was NOT allowed upstairs so I could write. And I did. I wrote and wrote and wrote, story after story after story. I’m a huge perfectionist, always have been, so most of my stories didn’t make it past a few chapters before I went back and rewrote it.
There was one that I had been writing from the time I was 11 until my first Christmas at Baylor. I never wrote as I did when I was younger, was never as dedicated, but I continued to add bits and pieces. That Christmas my computer ate the dust, and I lost it. Years of work was just gone, and I was heartbroken.
I haven’t really written since. Not stories, not the way I used to.
I miss it. Coming back to Little Women, remembering my old friend Jo and how she had influenced me lights up that part of my soul again. That’s what this book means to me.
If you haven’t experience Little Women, please do. Not only is it a classic, but it’s just nice. It’s a nice story, although it does have it’s hangups. If you have children, I would think this a wonderful book to introduce to them. It has old fashioned ideals and virtues which might seem quaint in todays world, but I do think it wouldn’t hurt if we all tried a bit harder to be genteel the way people used to be.
In that same note, it was written in a time when women had decidedly less rights, and if this book was our only indication of the ethnicities of people at that time, we’d see no non-white people anywhere. In fact, the only character mentioned is this awkward allusion to a “quadroon” who is never actually given a name. So, you know, that’s unfortunate.
This book didn’t give me the desire to write, but it did provide me with an good example of a writer I could aspire to be like. It also made me a bit forlorn that I didn’t have any sisters, but that was a less easy fix.
There are lots of lovely little passages and thoughts in this book, but I’ll only share one of my favorites:
But, you see, Jo wasn’t a heroine; she was only a struggling human girl, like hundreds of others, and she just acted out her nature, being sad, cross, listless, or energetic, as the mood suggested. It’s highly virtuous to say we’ll be good, but we can’t do it all at once, and it takes a long pull, a strong pull, and a pull all together, before some of us even get our feet set in the right way.
That’s the best part of this book, in my opinion. None of the girls, not even darling Beth, is presented as some perfect and untouchable person. They each have their foibles and struggles, but they work to overcome them.
Would I recommend this book? Certainly. For both children and adults (and anyone in between), this book is always a good read.
Would I read this book again? Without a doubt. It’s going to go back on the shelf, perhaps for many more years, but I’m sure it will reappear again when I need it. I look to Jo for inspiration, and I’ll pull myself up in an effort to get my feet set in the right way.
for next week:
THE VERY THOUGHT OF YOU
by Rosie Alison